Some of my favorite types of films to watch are music documentaries, and with the premiere of Time is Illmatic, a film about the classic Nas LP Illmatic (in my opinion, the greatest rap album ever made), I started thinking about what other incredible albums deserve to have their stories told. Here are six classic album documentaries I'd like to see.
1. Captain Beefheart - Trout Mask Replica (1969)
Though Captain Beefheart's weirdo blues album Trout Mask Replica took only a few days to record (the instrumental tracks for all 28 songs were recorded in just six hours), the eight-month preparation period was more akin to a prison sentence than a rehearsal, with Beefheart refusing to let any band members leave their tiny house. A documentary about the album would essentially be the Burden of Dreams of rock music.
2. The Cure - Disintegration (1989)
Disintegration is Robert Smith's Pet Sounds; it was the album he absolutely had to make at that moment in his life, and one of the rare conscious attempts to create a masterpiece that actually succeeds. Much like the Wilco documentary I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, a film about Disintegration would tell the story of an album that was thought to be too extreme for the mainstream, but ended up being the band's biggest commercial and critical success.
3. Weezer - Pinkerton (1996)
There are plenty of fans that will argue that Pinkerton is even better than Weezer's debut, but the story surrounding Pinkerton is totally bizarre. The album was written while frontman Rivers Cuomo was attending Harvard and was originally planned as a sci-fi rock opera called Songs from the Black Hole, but that idea was scrapped and never revisited. Lost albums are always fascinating subjects, and would be a great story for a documentary.
4. Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (1998)
As I've written about before, Neutral Milk Hotel inspires a cult-like devotion amongst its fans, largely in part to its second LP In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. Though it would be interesting to see how the album was written and recorded, the feverish devotion that the album inspires would be even more fascinating, and even potentially disturbing.
5. The Strokes - Is This It (2001)
When the Strokes broke into the mainstream with Is This It, plenty of music critics celebrated "the return of rock & roll," but enough time has passed to realize that the Strokes didn't resurrect rock & roll as much as it gave birth to 21st century indie rock and "hipster" culture. Is This It has plenty of great songs, but its influence spread even further than its music.
6. Radiohead - In Rainbows (2007)
The music industry had already been declining since the turn of the century, but Radiohead ensured that it would never bounce back when it released In Rainbows in 2007. Though musically the album is an absolute classic, its unusual release, with little promotion and no fixed price, showed the world that a band could successfully release its music to its fans without a middleman. A documentary on In Rainbows would be as much about the music as it is about the way it changed the business.